Allan Kardec

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Existence of God – The Divine Nature – Providence – The View of God

Existence of God

1. God being the first cause of all things, the starting point of all, the pivot upon which the edifice of creation reposes, is the subject to be considered before any other.

2. It is by elementary principle that one judges a cause by its effect, when one sees not the cause.

If a bird cleaving the air receives a deadly shot, one judges that a ball, sent by a skilful hand, struck it, although one may not have seen the marksman. Is it then always necessary to have seen a thing before knowing that it exists? In everything it is by observing effects that we arrive at the knowledge of causes.

3. Another principle, also elementary, and passed into an axiom by force of truth, is that all intelligent effect must have an intelligent cause.

If one inquired who was the inventor of such an ingenious piece of mechanism, the architect of such a monument, the sculptor of such a statue, or the painter of such a picture, what would one think of him who should reply that it was done without the help of anyone? When one sees a superior work of art or of industry, they say that that is probably the work of a man of genius, because it is evident that a high intelligence has presided at its conception. One judges, nevertheless, that a man has done it, because one knows that it is not above human capacity; but no one will say that it proceeded from the brain of an idiot or of an ignorant, and still less that it is the work of an animal, or the product of chance.

4. Everywhere one recognizes the presence of man by his works. The existence of the pre-diluvium man is proved not only by human fossils, but also, with as much certitude, by the presence in the soil of this epoch, of utensils made by man. A fragment of a vase, a carved stone, a weapon, a brick, will suffice to attest their presence. By the rudeness or by the perfection of the work one will recognize the degree of intelligence or of advancement of those who have accomplished it. If, then, finding yourself in a country inhabited exclusively by barbarians or savages, you should discover a statue worth of Phidias, you would not hesitate to say, that, savages being incapable of having made it, it must be the work of an intelligence superior to theirs.

5. In looking around one’s self upon the works of nature, observing the foresight, the wisdom, the harmony, which preside in all things, one recognizes that there is a power superior to the highest flights of human intelligence, since the greatest genius of the Earth would not know how to create a blade of grass. Since human intelligence cannot produce them, it proves that they are the product of an intelligence superior to that of humanity, unless we say that effects are without cause.

6. To this some oppose the following argument:

Works said to be produced by nature are the product of material forces, which are agitated mechanically by following the laws of attraction and repulsion. Particles of inert bodies are aggregated and disintegrated by the power of these laws. Plants are born, sprout, grow, and multiply always in the same manner, each one of its kind, by virtue of these same laws; each subject being like that from which it sprung. The growth, florescence, fructification, and coloring are subordinate to some material cause, such as heat, electricity, light, humidity, etc. It is the same with animals. Even stars are formed by attraction of particles, and move perpetually in their orbits by the effect of gravitation. This mechanical regularity in the employ of natural forces does not imply a free intelligence. Man moves his arms when he desires and as he desires, but he who would move them in the same manner from his birth to his death would be an automaton. Now, the organic forces of nature, considered as a whole, are, in some respects, automatic.

All that is true; but, these forces are effects which must have a cause, and no one has pretended that they constitute the divinity. They are material and mechanical; they are not intelligent of themselves, we all know, but they are set at work, distributed, and appropriated to the needs of everything by an intelligence, which is not that of man. The useful appropriation of these forces is an intelligent effect, which denotes an intelligent cause. A clock moves with an automatic regularity, and it is this regularity which constitutes its merit. The force which makes it act is material and not intelligent; but what would this clock be if an intelligence had not combined, calculated, and distributed the employment of this force in order to make it move with precision? Because we cannot see intelligence, and because it is not in the mechanism of the clock, is it rational to conclude that it does not exist? One judges it by its effects.

The existence of the clock attests the existence of the clockmaker; the ingenuity of its mechanism is a proof of the intelligence and knowledge of its maker. When ones sees one of these complicated clocks which mark the hour in order to give you the knowledge of which you have need, has it ever occurred to anyone to say, “There is a very intelligent clock?”

Thus, it is in the mechanism of the universe: God does not show himself, but he makes affirmation of himself in his works.

7. The existence of God is then an acquired fact, not only by revelation, but by the material evidence of facts. The most barbarian people had not had a revelation; yet they instinctively believe in a superhuman power. The savages themselves, do not escape logical consequences; they see things which are beyond human power, and they conclude that they are produced by a being superior to humanity. Are they not more rational than those who presume that such things were created by themselves?

The Divine Nature

8. It has not been permitted to man to sound the inmost nature of God. We still lack the inner knowledge of our own sense of being, which can only be acquired by means of a complete purification of the Spirit; only then will we be able to comprehend God. But if we cannot penetrate his essence, his existence being given as premise, we can, by the power of reason, arrive at the knowledge of his necessary attributes; for, in seeing that which he cannot be without ceasing to be God, we judge that what he must be. Without the knowledge of the attributes of God, it would be impossible to comprehend the work of creation. It is the starting point of all religious beliefs; and the fault of most religions is that they have made their dogmas the beacon-light to direct them. Those which have not attributed to God all power have made many gods; those which have not endowed him with sovereign goodness have made of him a jealous, angry, partial, and vindictive God.

9. God is supreme and sovereign intelligence. The intelligence of man is limited, since it can neither make nor comprehend all that exists; that of God, embracing infinity, must be infinite. If we supposed it to be limited to a certain point, then it would be possible to conceive a being still more intelligent, capable of comprehending and doing that which the other was not able to do. This search would continue indefinitely.

10. God is eternal: that is to say, he has had no beginning, and he will have no end. If he had had a commencement, he must have sprung from nothingness. Now, nothingness being nothing, can produce nothing; or, if he could have been created by another being anterior to himself, then this other being would be God. If one could suppose of him a commencement or an end, one would then be able to conceive a being having existed before him, or being able to exist after him, and thus one after the other even to infinitude.

11. God is unchangeable. If he were subject to change, the laws which govern the universe would not have any stability.

12. God is immaterial; that is to say, his nature differs from all that which we call matter: otherwise he could not be immutable, for he would be subject to the transformations of matter.

God has not a form appreciable to our senses: if he had, he would be matter. We say, the hand of God, the eye of God, the mouth of God, because men knowing him only by themselves, takes themselves as a term of comparison of all that which they comprehend not. Pictures representing God as an old man with a long beard, covered with a mantle, are ridiculous: they have the disadvantage of lowering the Supreme Being to the level of poor humanity. It is but one step from that to endow him with the passions of humanity, and to make of him a jealous and angry God.

13. God is all-powerful. If he had not supreme power, one could conceive of a being more powerful; thus from one to another, till one could find a being that no other could surpass in power, and it is the latter who would be God.

14. God is sovereignly just and good. Providential wisdom in divine laws is revealed in small as well as in great things, and this wisdom gives no room to doubt either his justice or his kindness.

The infinitude of a quality excludes the possibility of a contrary one which would lessen or annul it. A being infinitely good could not have the smallest particle of wickedness; a being infinitely bad could not have the smallest particle of goodness, - just as an object could not be absolutely black with the faintest shade of white, neither one absolutely white with the slightest spot of black.

God would not then be both good and bad; for possessing neither one nor the other of these qualities in a supreme degree, he would not be God. All things would be submitted to caprice, and he would have stability in nothing. It is then only possible to be infinitely good or infinitely bad. If he were infinitely bad, he would do nothing good. Now, as his works testify of his wisdom, of his goodness, and of his solicitude for us, it is necessary to conclude that being unable to be at the same time good and bad without ceasing to be God, he must be infinitely good.

Sovereign kindness and goodness imply sovereign justice; for if he acted unjustly or with partiality in one instance, or in respect to any one of his creatures, he would not be sovereignly just, and consequently not perfectly good.

15. God is infinitely perfect. It is impossible to conceive of a God without an infinitude of perfections, without which he could not be God; for one would always be able to think of a being possessing that which was wanting in him. In order that no one being surpass him, it is necessary that he be infinite in all.

The attributes of God being infinite, are neither susceptible of augmentation nor of diminution. Without that they would not be infinite, and God would not be perfect. If one could take away the least part of one of his attributes, he would no longer be God, since it would be possible for a more perfect being to exist.

16. God is unique. The unity of God is the result of absolute infinitude of perfection. Another God could not exist except upon one condition, that of being equally infinite in all things; for, if there were between them the slightest difference, the one would be inferior to the other, subordinate to his power, and would not be God. If there were between them absolute equality, there would be for all eternity one same thought, one wish, one power; thus confounding their identity, and there would be in reality only one God. If each one had special attributes, the one would do that which the other would not, and then there would not be between them perfect equality, since neither one nor the other would have sovereign authority.

17. It is ignorance of the principle of infinite perfection of God which has engendered polytheism, the worship of all people in early times. They attribute divinity to all power which seemed to them above humanity. Later, reason led them to join these diverse powers in one alone; then, as men have gradually comprehended the essence of the divine attributes, they have taken away from their creeds the beliefs which denied them.

18. After all, God cannot be God except on condition of not being surpassed in anything by another being; for them the being who should surpass him in whatever it might be, were it only by a hair’s breadth, and would be the true God; for it is necessary that God be infinite in all things.

It is thus that the existence of God being proved by his works, one arrives, by a simple logical deduction, to determine the attributes which characterize him.

19. God is then the Supreme and Sovereign Intelligence. He is unique, eternal, immutable, immaterial, all-powerful, sovereignly just and good, infinite in all his perfection, like no other.

Such is the base upon which the universal edifice reposes. It is the beacon-light whose rays illuminate the entire universe, and which alone can guide man in the search for truth. In following it he will never go astray; and, if he is often led astray, it is for want of having followed the route which was indicated to him.

Such is the infallible criterion of all philosophical and religious doctrines. Man has a rigorously exact measure in the attributes of God with which to judge him; and he can say with certitude that all theory, all principle, all dogma, all beliefs, all practices which are in contradiction with anyone of these attributes, which should tend not necessarily to annul it, but simply to weaken it, cannot be of the truth.

In philosophy, in psychology, in ethics, in religion, there is no truth in that which departs one iota from the essential qualities of divinity. Perfect religion must be that of which no article of faith is in opposition with these qualities; all the dogmas must sustain the proof of this control without conflicting with it in any particular.


20. Providence is the solicitude of God for all his creatures. God is everywhere. He sees all, he presides over all, even to the smallest thing; in this, providential action consists.

“How can God, so grand, so powerful, so superior to all, interfere with the pettiest details, occupy himself with the most trifling thoughts and actions of each individual? Such is the question upon which unbelief alights, from which it concludes, that, in admitting the existence of God, his action should extend only to the general laws of the universe; that the universe operates to all eternity by virtue of these laws, to which every creature is subject in his sphere of activity without a need for the incessant cooperation of Providence.”

21. In their actual state of inferiority men can only with difficulty comprehend the infinite God, because they are themselves narrow and limited in their views of him. They imagine him to correspond to their ideas; they represent him as a circumscribed being and make of him an image according to their ideal. Our pictures, which paint him with human features, contribute not a little to establishing this error in the mind of the masses, who adore him in form more than in thought. He is to the greater part of humanity a powerful sovereign upon an inaccessible throne, lost in the immensity of the heavens; and, because their faculties and perceptions are limited, they do not comprehend that God can, or deigns to, interfere directly in little things.

22. In his impotence, how is man to comprehend the essence even of divinity? He can form of it only an approximate idea by the aid of comparisons, necessarily very imperfect, but which can at least show him the possibility of that which at first sight seems to him impossible.

Let us suppose a fluid subtle enough to penetrate all bodies; this fluid, being without intelligence, acts mechanically by material force alone. But if we suppose this fluid to be endowed with intelligence, with sensitive and perceptive qualities, it will no more act blindly, but with discernment, will, and liberty; it will see, hear, and feel.

23. The properties of the perispiritual fluid can give us only an idea of it. It is not intelligent of itself since it is matter; but it is the vehicle of the thought, the sensations, and perceptions of the spirit.

The perispiritual fluid is not the thought of the spirit, but the agent and intermediate of this thought. It is in a manner, impregnated by the life of him who transmits it; and, in the impossibility of isolating it where we are; he seems to be one with the fluid, as sound and air seem to be one and the same in such a way that we can, as it were, materialize it. We say, for instance, the air is sonorous; we, in taking the effect for the cause, say that the fluid becomes intelligent.

24. Let it be so or not with the thought of God, - that is to say, let it act directly, or by the intermediation of a fluid; for the facility of our intelligence, let us represent it under the concrete form of an intelligent fluid filling the universe, penetrating all parts of creation, - Nature in its entirety is plunged in the divine fluid. Now, by virtue of the principle that the parts of a whole are of the same nature, and have the same properties as the whole, each atom of this fluid, if one can express it thus, possessing thought, - that is to say, the essential attributes of divinity, this fluid being everywhere, - all is submissive to its intelligent action, to its foresight, to its solicitude; there is not a being, however inferior he may be, that is not in a measure penetrated by it. We are thus constantly in the presence of divinity. Not one of our actions can escape his notice. Our thoughts are in incessant contact with his thoughts; and reason tells us that God reads the profoundest depths of our hearts. We are in him, as he is in us, according to the word of Christ.

In order to exercise his watchful care over all his creatures, it is not necessary for God to look at them from the height of immensity. Our prayers, in order to be heard by him, have not to traverse space, not to be spoken with a reverberating voice; for, being ever at our side, our thought are perceived by him. Our thoughts are like the tones of a bell, which make all the molecules of the ambient air vibrate.

25. Far from us is the thought of materializing divinity. The image of an intelligent universal fluid is evidently only a comparison, but adapted to give a more just idea of God than the pictures which represent him with a human face. Its object is to make us comprehend the possibility of the presence of God everywhere, and of his occupying himself with everything.

26. We have always before our eyes an example which can give us an idea of the manner in which the action of God can be exercised over all beings, even to the inmost recesses of their hearts, and, consequently, how the most subtle impressions of our soul reach him. It is drawn from spiritual teaching on this subject.

27. “Man is a little world, of which the director is the spirit, and the principle directed is the body. In this universe the body will represent a creation whose spirit is God. (You comprehend that there can be here only a question of analogy, and not of identity.) The member of his body, the different organs which compose it, - its muscles, its nerves, its veins, its joints, - are so many material individualities localized in special parts of the body, if one can so speak. Although the number of this constitutive parts, so varied and different by nature, is considerable, it is not to be doubted, however, that he cannot move, that no action whatever can occur in any particular part, without the consciousness of the spirit in regard to it. Are there diverse sensations in many places simultaneously? The spirit feels them all, discerns them, analyses them, assigns to each its cause and place of action through the perispiritual fluid.

A similar phenomenon takes place between creation and God. God is everywhere in nature, as the spirit pervades all the body. All the elements of creation are in constantly rapport with him, as all the particles of the human body are in immediate contact with the spiritual being. There is, then, no reason why phenomena of the same order should not be produced in like manner in the one case as in the other.

A member is agitated: the spirit feels it; a creature thinks: God knows it. All the members move: the different organs are put in vibration, the spirit feels every manifestation, distinguishes them, and localizes them. The different creations, different creatures, are agitated, think, act diversely, and God knows all that which passes, assigns to each one that which is peculiar to him.

One can deduce from it equally the solidarity of matter and of intelligence, the solidarity between all beings of the world, that of all worlds, and, indeed, that of all creations of the Creator.” – Quinemant: Société de Paris, 1867.

28. We comprehend the effect, which is much. From the effect we mount to the cause, and we judge of the cause by the grandeur of the effect; but its inmost essence escapes us, like that of the cause of a multitude of phenomena. We know the effects of electricity, of heat, of light, of gravitation; we form calculations in regard to them: however, we are ignorant of the inmost nature of the principle which produces them. Is then, more rational to deny divine principles because we do not comprehend it?

29. Nothing hinders us from admitting a principle of sovereign intelligence, a center of action, a principal focus, beaming always, inundating the entire universe with its beams, like the sun with its light. But where is this focus? That is what no one can tell. It is probable that God is no more confined to a certain point than is his action, and that he traverses incessantly the regions of space without limit. If common spirits have the gift of ubiquity, this faculty in God must surely be unlimited. Admitting that God does fill the universe, one can suppose that this focus has no necessity for transporting itself, but that he appears at each point were sovereign will desires to be. From which we can infer that he is everywhere, but in no one place especially.

30. Before these unfathomable problems we must feel our smallness. God exists: we cannot doubt it. He is infinitely just and good: this is his essence. His care extends itself to all; we comprehend it. He can then desire only our good: that is why we should have confidence in him. This is the essential part of it: for the rest, let us wait until we are worthy of understanding him.

View of God

31. Since God is everywhere, why do we not see him? Upon leaving the Earth, shall we see him? Such questions are daily posed.

The first is not difficult to solve. Our material organs have limited perceptions, which render them powerless to see certain things, sometimes even material objects. Thus certain fluids escape our view, as also that of our analytical instruments. However, we do not doubt their existence. We see the effects of the pestilence; but we do not see the fluid which transports it. We see bodies move under the influence of gravity; but we do not see this force.

32. The spiritual essence of things cannot be perceived by material organs; it is only by the spiritual vision that we can see spirits, and the substances of the immaterial world. Our soul alone can then have perceptions of God. Does it see him immediately after death? Communications from beyond the tomb can alone inform us. By them we learn that the privilege of seeing him is granted only to the purest souls, and thus very few possess the necessary degree of ethereality upon leaving their terrestrial envelope. Some common comparisons will make this the more easily comprehended.

33. He who is in the depth of a valley surrounded by a thick fog does not see the sun; but at a higher point, by aid of the increased light, he judges that the sun is shining. If he climbs the mountain, in proportion as he rises, the fog becomes thinner, the light more and more brilliant; but he does not as yet see the sun. When he commences to see it, it is as yet veiled; for the least vapor suffices to conceal its splendor. It is only after rising above the lowering mist, only in an atmosphere of perfect purity, that he sees it in all its brightness.

Thus it is with the soul. The perispiritual covering, although invisible and impalpable to us, who are still too gross for certain perceptions, is in truth, a veritable substance. This covering becomes spiritualized itself in proportion as the soul becomes elevated by morality. The imperfections of the soul are like veils which obscure its light. Every imperfection when removed leaves one veil less; but it is only after becoming completely purified that it enjoys the full plenitude of its faculties.

34. God being the divine essence by excellence can be perceived in all his splendor only by spirits who have arrived at the highest degree of ethereality. If imperfect spirits do not see him, it is not that they are farther away from him than are others. They and all natural things are submerged in the divine fluid, as we are in the light, only their imperfections are veils which hide him from their sight. When the fog shall have disappeared, they will see him resplendently shine. To attain this vision, there will be no necessity for climbing, nor of seeking him in the depths of infinitude. The spiritual sight being rid of the moral taints which obscure it, they will see him in every place; for he is everywhere to be found. He must be as truly upon the Earth as elsewhere, if he is everywhere.

35. It takes time for the spirit to purify itself; and the different incarnation are the alembics in the depths of which is left each time some impurity. In quitting his mortal envelope man is not instantaneously despoiled of his imperfections. That is the reason why some see no more of God after death than while living on Earth; but, in proportion as spirits become purified, they have a more distinct intuition, if they do not see God, they comprehend him better: the light is less vague. Thus, when spirits say that God forbids them to respond to this question, it is not that God appears to them, or speaks to them, in order to direct them to do, or prohibit them for doing, such and such things. No; but they feel him: they receive the emanation of his thought, as we feel in respect to spirits who envelop us in their fluid, although we do not see them.

36. No man can see God with fleshly eyes. If this favor were accorded to anyone, it would only be in that trance state when the soul is as much redeemed from the trammels of matter as is possible during incarnation. Such a privilege would only be accorded to advanced souls incarnated for a mission here, and not in expiation for sin. But, as spirits of the most elevated order shine with dazzling splendor, it is possible that spirits less elevated, incarnate or discarnate, struck with the splendor which surrounds them, have believed that they have seen God himself, as one sees sometimes a minister taken from his sovereign.

37. Under what appearance does God present himself to those who are rendered worthy

of such a favor? Is it under any form, - as a human figure, or as a focus of beaming light? This is something that human language is powerless to describe, because there exists no point of comparison which can give an idea of it. We are like blind men whom men seek in vain to instruct concerning the appearance of the light of the sun. Our vocabulary of knowledge is limited to our needs, and to the circle of our ideas. Just as that of the savage could not possibly depict the marvels of civilization, so that of people of the highest culture is too poor to describe the splendors of the heavens, our intelligence too limited to comprehend them, while our too feeble sight would be dazzled by their brightness could we see them, as they are.

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